Friday, April 17, 2020

Kim Ogg's Pandemic Witch Hunt

It started innocuously enough, a little over a month ago.  That seems like a lifetime ago, now, doesn't it?  The Coronavirus was just beginning to take a foothold on the western side of the country and maybe a case or two had been identified in Harris County.

As noted in an earlier post, the Office was already working around-the-clock to deal with the virus by relaxing the dress code.  They weren't sending their non-essential employees home back then, for some reason.  But Division Chief Tanisha Manning decided to get out ahead of the crisis by creating a worksheet to keep track of the Office's internal mortality rate.


Since the powers that be had no intention of issuing a blanket "stay-at-home" order at that time, the Office clearly needed to keep track of those less dedicated employees who weren't coming into work.  On its face, the chart is laughable.  So much so that I initially was curious as to whether or not it had been created facetiously.  

The beautifully color-coded chart for each day of the work week allowed for supervisors to document those employees within their respective divisions who were missing work for 1) non-COVID related reasons, 2) quarantining without symptoms, 3) being diagnosed with COVID or showing symptoms, or 4) something having to do with being in Court or at the Office's headquarters at 500 Jefferson.    The crown jewel of this ridiculous worksheet, however, was the top portion, which requested notification of those "Employees Seriously Ill or who have Passed Away due to COVID-19."  

As one employee noted:  "I'm supposed to call in dead?"

To be fair, Tanisha didn't come up with the questions being asked; those were apparently from the overarching Harris County government.  But, she did make it a very pretty worksheet that was sent out to other employees.  It wasn't really that big a deal, but it caused a couple of gallows-humor inspired chuckles amongst many of the employees at the Office.   Others took it to be an all-too-frightening warning.  That same morning was when news of an exposed prosecutor had resulted in a shutdown of the 8th floor of the CJC and people in HAZMAT suits were greeting visitors when they entered the building.

At some point, someone took a photograph of the worksheet while it was displayed on a computer monitor and sent it to a friend or two.  And that's where the trouble started.  

A troublemaking, bald-headed defense attorney (who strangely enough was not me) posted that photo on Facebook and lightly made fun of it.

It is important to keep the timeframe in context here, because it's very relevant.  

The day after this silly worksheet came out, everything got real serious over at the CJC.  Prosecutors were sent home and told to work from there.  The CJC began aggressively shutting down bond dockets and keeping people out of the building entirely.   In short, the crisis of the coronavirus was hitting home and we were all in full-fledged crisis mode.

But for Kim Ogg, the real crisis wasn't the coronavirus.  

It was finding out whoever leaked that photograph to a defense attorney.  It was time for a good old-fashioned witch hunt.

For what it's worth, I had no idea that any of this was going on at the time.  My first clue that something was afoot came when I e-mailed a senior Felony Chief prosecutor about a case and never heard back.  Having dealt with this Chief before on many occasions and knowing him to be an extremely responsible and diligent prosecutor, I found this to be unusual.  I made mention to someone else that I found this to be unusual.  That person then told me the story that I'm about to tell you (if you don't already know it).

Now, before going any further, I want to make a couple of things VERY clear.  By the time you get to the end of this blog post, you will understand why.  The first thing I want made clear is that I am 100% confident in the information I'm about to write.  The second thing is that I received this information from multiple, multiple sources and I'm not going to name them under any circumstances.  If Kim Ogg would like to know them, she can call me on my direct line at 713-BITE-MYASS.  And finally, I'm not going to name the prosecutors targeted in this witch hunt.  They were all treated unfairly and I have no intention of making it worse for them by naming them.  If you comment on this post and name any of them, I won't be publishing your comment.  

As I was saying . . .

While everyone else was pulling together to help keep the Criminal Justice System moving forward, Crazy Kim Ogg was ramping up her own version of the Spanish Inquisition.  She dispatched her Chief Investigator Steve Clappart and his team of investigators to locate the dastardly, disloyal person who had shared the photograph.  Prosecutors were interrogated and were asked whether or not they had received the picture, and if so, had they forwarded it on to anyone outside the Office.

A senior felony chief prosecutor acknowledged having received the photo and sending it to a handful of other prosecutors but told the investigator that it had not been sent to anyone outside the Office.  Stunningly, the prosecutor was immediately suspended and the prosecutor's county-issued computer was confiscated.  The investigator then asked for the prosecutor to turn over the prosecutor's personal cell phone for downloading, and the prosecutor declined.

So to satisfy Kim Ogg's paranoia, a prosecutor (who was not the source of the photo, nor the person who forwarded said photo to the above-mentioned bald defense attorney) was suspended for sharing the photo with a group of prosecutors. 

Let that sink in for just a moment.

With the coronavirus in full effect and everyone is involved in a group effort to help, Kim Ogg sidelines an experienced Felony District Court Chief for her arbitrary belief that the prosecutor was somehow "disloyal."

Seem stupid and paranoid?  Probably because it is.

But wait, there's more.  Kim Ogg and Chief Stormtrooper Clappart would do something similar to six more senior prosecutors -- four additional District Court Chiefs, and two senior Felony Twos.  Those six wouldn't actually be suspended, but they did have either Clappart or one of his investigators show up at their doors to confiscate their work computers for a good old-fashioned Disloyalty Download.  Again, the investigators were told to request the personal cell phones of all of those prosecutors for download, and again all were denied.

As a side note, I really want to give a huge shout out to Harris County District Attorney Chief Investigator Steve Clappart.  You have really come a long way from the olden days when you were a respected Homicide investigator with HPD.  From drafting a bullshit Capital Murder warrant to charge a teenager as an alternate suspect on behalf of David Temple's defense team to shaking down senior prosecutors for their personal cell phones.   You've got to be so proud.  I guess what your former colleagues think of you no longer matters.  Hey, I've got a mystery for an old Homicide guy:  figure out who murdered your reputation.  SPOILER ALERT:  It was you.

So, back to the Mad Queen.

Although not suspended, the additional six prosecutors no longer had their computers,  which drastically reduced their ability to do their jobs while the rest of us were trying to figure out Zoom conferences and other things that were desperately needed in the crisis.  Not just any prosecutors, but senior prosecutors who are all highly respected for the jobs that they do.  These were the exact people who needed to be working at full capacity through this crisis, not sidelined to satisfy Kim's paranoia.

The ultimate irony in this was that none of those seven sidelined prosecutors either a) took the photo; b) shared the photo with the defense attorney; nor c) shared it outside of the Office.  They all just got punished for refusing to turn over their private cell phones to the idiots running the witch hunt.  

Kim's ego-fueled paranoia couldn't have come at a worse time.  But it wasn't over yet.

All of the prosecutors were told to come into the Office or participate in a Zoom conference with the Empress herself.  All had refused to turn over their personal cell phones to Clappart and Company, but perhaps they would cave when asked by Ogg herself.  Ogg told them all that they could be fired for failing to turn over their personal phones for download.  They all stood their ground, refusing to turn over their personal, private data in an effort to extinguish Kim's lunacy.

In the middle of this, the actual prosecutor who had sent the picture to the defense came forward.  This prosecutor was also a respected Felony District Court Chief who didn't want anyone else having to suffer Kim's wrath for something that they hadn't done.  The prosecutor explained that the purpose of sharing the photo had been out of concern, not mockery.  The prosecutor offered up their personal cell phone.  Ironically, the investigator declined to take it.

That was a week or so ago.  Time kind of runs together these days.  Ultimately the Original Seven prosecutors all received letters of reprimand in their files for their alleged insubordination for failing to turn over their phones.   They have been told that they all are going to be transferred out of their current assignments immediately, on the off chance that any of them were happy where they were.

Today, the prosecutor who came forward was fired.  I'm not sure what exactly the rationale was behind firing somebody who a) didn't break the law; b) didn't break an actual rule in the Office's Operation manual; and c) was honest about the prosecutor's involvement in the "scandal." As with the Original Seven, this prosecutor had a stellar reputation for leadership and being reasonable.  Those things are desperately needed right now.

All to satisfy the ego-driven bully currently residing as the Harris County District Attorney.

Kim, you've jumped from being a terrible public servant to just being a terrible person, in general.  You possess none of the qualities of leadership that the prosecutors you punished all have.  You are petty and vindictive, and this ridiculous witch hunt has shown that Public Interest and Safety is far less important to you than your own ego and misguided definitions of loyalty.

I'm embarrassed of you and I'm embarrassed for you.

To the eight of you who got tangled up in this stupid witch hunt, I'm sure that you know your reputations for both integrity and talent far outshine anything that Kim Ogg has ever accomplished in her career.  

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

This makes me both incredibly sad and incredibly angry. Now that she's won the primary, she's going to get even worse. It's enough to make one consider voting Republican.

Has the HCDAO started giving prosecutors work phones yet? Because this incident would be enough for me to refuse to use my personal phone for anything work related. And if a supervisor had a problem with that, they could refer to the number that Murray cites above. Most prosecutors are too diligent to draw that kind of line. But there is strength in numbers.

Anonymous said...

Just more of the same lack of professionalism on the part of the office. But to be honest, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the phrase Division Chief Tanisha Manning.

Anonymous said...

You can always count on Clappart to get it wrong. Shame on Osterberg for being a party to this. He has lost all of my respect. As for Clappart, I never had respect for that POS COWARD.

Anonymous said...

At this point, Lloyd Oliver sounds like he could have better judgement than Empress Ogg.

- Ryan Chandler said...

I am sure that someone in the DA's administration will realize that this thing has gotten out of hand and that some amount of common sense should be used when making decisions that will affect the lives and careers of those employees. I'm confident they understand that using the power of a government office to meet their own objectives is wrong. Eventually, cooler heads will prevail and everyone being investigated will be just fine...

Anonymous said...

The prosecutors who got a letter of reprimand for not turning over their personal phones should call an employment lawyer. For real. Future employers look at those files; it's a serious thing to let Ogg put in shitty letters that criticize you for a) breaking no stated rule and b) exercising your fucking constitutional rights.

Anonymous said...

I am not a lawyer, but isn't Ogg asking sworn law enforcement officers (which the investigators all are) to investigate something that she knows is not illegal, well, sort of, against the law? The scope of their authority does not extend to helping her figure out who said mean things about her or how she is running the office. If HR personnel were "investigating", it would stink to high heaven, but it wouldn't be the same as asking law enforcement officers to investigate HE issues.

Anonymous said...

So I am an old retired lawyer. I confess my legal knowledge might be a little out f date. Can someone explain to me how a person can be sanctioned for failing to turn over their personal property to their employer? This was not part of a criminal investigation. I wonder in Durfee blessed off on this.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you haven’t met Kim Ogg or you would not be so confident!

Anonymous said...

The real issue is that Kim Ogg represents the State of Texas. While a normal employer would have no right to do this and would look bad punishing employees for refusing to let their devices be searched, having the State of Texas punish you for such, I would argue, would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment (through the Fourteenth Amendment). It amounts to coercion. If the police came and said, hey, if you don’t let me search your house then I’m going to call CPS regarding a complaint about your kids, they would be in violation of the fourth. So ergo the DA saying, hey if you don’t let me search your phone I’m going to fire you (and/or reprimand you) would be a violation. Had they not made the reprimand contingent on the search, they might’ve been ok. But she did and that’s just straight coercion. Maybe there is a law or distinction that says working for the DAs office suspends some Constitutional rights, but searching a phone is the same standard as searching a house or a car and I’m pretty sure the State of Texas can’t coerce anyone in an attempt to have them forfeit those rights.

Anonymous said...

Tanisha is keeping a database with people's health information???? There are laws against that. Also, didn't the DA's office release the health information of a judge? So Kim brings some of the few good prosecutors she has left to step on the plastic covering the floor. What a bunch of F'ing idiots.

Inger Chandler said...

Clearly you don’t know my husband. 😉

Anonymous said...

Two words come to mind.

Official Oppression.

Using official law enforcement personnel to demand seizure of personal cell phones for nothing more than an HR inquiry is in and of itself unlawful. On a higher level, Kim Ogg is a public servant and was acting under the color of her office while intentionally and knowingly subjecting her subordinates to mistreatment or search, seizure, and dispossession of their private property knowing such conduct was unlawful.

And I seem to recall back in the Lykos administration, Investigators using official databases to conduct unlawful background investigations on Grand Jury members. So, I have to wonder if they are doing that again as well...this time on their fellow employees.

The only question is, does anyone have the guts to do anything about it?

Anonymous said...

What did voters think when they voted Kim into office?!?! I hired Kim Ogg when she had a family law firm with her father. It was a disaster! She was rude, combative, missed every single deadline, wouldn’t return phone calls... It will get much worse if she wins another term.

Jakki A Hansen said...

Generous of you to state that she jumped from being a terrible public servant to being a terrible person, as though she was not one before. In my own experience and from tales from very credible sources, she wore the terrible person crown long before she got elected.

Anonymous said...

Anyone that ever hired Kim when she had a family law firm prior to her DA position could tell you she was combative, late for every meeting and deadline, unprofessional and rude. She will get much worse if she wins a 2nd term!

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:56, she's conducting an administrative investigation, not a criminal one. So, the 4th Amendment doesn't apply. Also, the ADA's are employees at will, meaning they can be fired for (almost) any reason.

Anonymous said...

Crazy Ogg needs to have an ethics complaint filed against her with the State Bar. She has many violations to chose from....her comments during a press conference about defendants refusing to testify before a Grand Jury is just one huge violation. Anyone can make the complaint but know their name will be revealed to the Queen. Those that currently work in the system know she will come after them as she displayed during this witch hunt. Anyone, please help, and make the complaint.

Anonymous said...

One of the individuals was FIRED during a pandemic and during an economic recession. Don’t think he/she would agree everyone will be just fine.

Anonymous said...

Guess Ogg forgot everything prosecutors e-mail is PUBLIC RECORD. Can’t “leak” something if it’s already public record.... what a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

A lot of people need to contact an employment lawyer for what Ogg has done. But Houston is blue now and the vast majority of voters don’t give a damn to read about how terrible a person she is.

Anonymous said...

"Bring out your dead......."

Anonymous said...

Why did Tanisha Manning make this unethical chart. This will be Exhibit 1.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:50. Anon 3:56 here. Government employees retain their fourth amendment rights even during administrative investigations. O'Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709 (1987). Now, they are at will employees and could have been fired for any number of reasons but not for this one because it is coercion. While it may not have worked THIS time it did cause injury (namely a reprimand) and it would be effective for future coercion (namely the next time they want to coerce they can use this case as justification to the new victim that they have such power; when in fact they do not). I hate this type of online debating because it’s anonymous and can be petty. I do not want that and I am not aware of all the facts, so I’m not saying Ogg is liable for a 1983 action (though I’m not saying she isn’t liable either) or anything like that. I just do not want any government employees reading this to think that the government is allowed to punish them if they deny the government access to their personal property. Government employees: you can say no to their request to search your personal property and they cannot punish you for that.

Anonymous said...

Inger, your husband is naive and his comments are an insult to all of the employees fired and demeaned by Kim Ogg! 😉

Anonymous said...

I know it will not happen but this story should "find" its way to the local news media.

Anonymous said...

Y’all, it’s pretty clear he was being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

The truth of the matter is the reprimanded employees are certainly looking for other employment right now, rather than worrying about their future under Ogg. Why would they stay, even during this economic recession? There will be yet another suckhole of experience at the Harris County DA's office, and more hyper-paranoia abound for those left behind.

Anonymous said...

This is what it takes for you to consider voting against Ogg and Republican for DA? No brainer. And yes, they shouldn’t use their personal phones for a single thing work related until she is voted out later this year.

Anonymous said...

😂

Inger Chandler said...

Lol. FINALLY someone understands his post for what it was. 😉🤦🏼‍♀️

Anonymous said...

Well truth be told we voted her in and like her tatic of making prosecutors accountable for their actions. Matter of fact shes been cleaning house since we voted her in and we the people like that period! Didnt yall you prosecutors get the message during elections amd from day one she took office. Sorry now yall feeling what other feel.

Anonymous said...

Durfee has the backbone of a jellyfish. He and Clappart are two peas in a pod.

Murray Newman said...

And today's Lesson in Literacy is brought to you by Anon 11:07 p.m. who sounds very similar to Don Hooper Palmer.

Roy said...

I think it is time for the Feds to investigate her for abusing her authority

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:07 have you been drunk blogging again? Clearly you hit send before RP could edit.

Anonymous said...

With time to do this she needs how many new prosecutor positions?

Looks like you’re the subject of Madame Kim’s new found paranoia. Let us know if it affects your practice. Kim’s going mental as she slowly begins to realize her time as DA is running out.

Looking on the bright side at least we’re not reading another story about prosecutors like Chuck Rosenthal, Kelly Siegler, and Dan Rizzo hiding evidence, or Craig Goodheart slapping defendants – we’re on a new subject matter!

I'm almost beginning to wish Holmes was back - not...

Anonymous said...

if Anon 11:07 is Don Hooper Pooper Scooper Palmer, his grasp of English has actually improved since he last posted. I guess since he's stuck at home without any parental obligations, he has had more opportunities to watch Sesame Street and work on letters.

Tom said...

A poster made an incorrect statement of law about DA's e-mails being PUBLIC records. That's not true.
E-mails sent over a government system (and presumably stored by the IT folks forever) are governmental records. They are subject to the public information act but not necessarily public records.
Each e-mail may or may not be a public record. There are tons of exceptions to public disclosure. If they were all public records, e-mail exchanges between prosecutors or prosecutors and witnesses and cops would be available to the general public. While as a defense attorney, I'd love to have access under the PIA to the internal e-mails that say shred the Brady material, they probably are not subject to disclosure.
Anyone working for government on any level should restrict the use of their official e-mail account to official business. And, they should be very careful about what they say. If there are any questions about this, ask Chuck Rosenthal.
Just about everyone's got a personal smart phone. If you're married and setting up a date with your not your spouse lover, use your smart phone, not the office e-mail.

Anonymous said...

9:57 why don’t you give Murray’s hotline a call?

Anonymous said...

She made it because she is always kissing somebody's ass. She is as fake as her hair. She may be a DC but I have more experience. I'm not saying that you get promoted based solely on seniority but there are plenty of us with seniority, trial experience, and judgement. The latter is the one that tells you don't even think of making a chart like this. For the record, this isn't her first pretty little chart. Remember the one she made detailing who didn't show to the Ogg meeting and wanting an explanation. Oh Ft. Bend, please call.

Anonymous said...

You can't defend the indefensible, so no pity for Kim Ogg here. But this is a tempest in a teapot. It did make to smile to read one commentor's concerns about future employment opportunities for the prosecutors affected because of some silly letter in their file. OH boo hoo. Nobody you'd want to work for gives a shit. If that's your biggest problem, get on your knees and pray "God, it's good to be white!"

Anonymous said...

One of the reprimanded has answered the FB County call. More will follow. Way to purge the experienced and reasonable from what used to be a respected DA's office, Ogg.

As a defense attorney, the lack of experience works in my favor, and it's not my job to correct it. However, lack of experience + lack of respected leadership = lack of reasonableness, which does impede my ability to represent my clients effectively. There are some quality people working there now, but they need leadership to develop.

Speaking of, have you seen the idiocy coming out of Intake these days? Some of the recent charges are positively insane. It's like a law school hypothetical question on a Criminal Law exam. Where somebody actually gets arrested.

Anonymous said...

A democrat politician used their position and authority to have law enforcement investigate and unmask potential enemy and gets them fired. Sounds awfully familiar.